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Rockies have options if Blackmon isn't ready

@harding_at_mlb
July 9, 2020

DENVER -- Rockies manager Bud Black said he believes right fielder Charlie Blackmon could be ready to open the season, but the team is covered in case he can’t. Black said this week that Blackmon is in his home state of Georgia. The Rockies and other teams are not discussing

DENVER -- Rockies manager Bud Black said he believes right fielder Charlie Blackmon could be ready to open the season, but the team is covered in case he can’t.

Black said this week that Blackmon is in his home state of Georgia. The Rockies and other teams are not discussing specifics in regard to players not in Summer Camp unless the player authorizes – which falls under federal health information privacy (HIPAA) laws.

The plan, however, is still for Blackmon, a four-time All-Star, to be the team’s regular right fielder by the time the season starts on July 24 at Texas. Black said he could not give a date for when Blackmon would join the club, or a date he needs to be in by to realistically prepare for a season.

“It depends on the shape he’s in,” Black said. “We’ll assess that. I don’t want to put a hard date on that. Leading up to Charlie not feeling well, he was in great shape, swinging the bat, getting a lot of reps in here at Coors Field -- hitting, throwing, running, getting ready for whenever the season would start. So I think it’ll be a pretty quick ramp-up for Chuck.”

Black said the Rockies’ Minor League practice of preparing outfielders in all three spots serves them well in this case, with Raimel Tapia and Sam Hilliard -- who figure prominently in the left-field picture -- and regular center fielder David Dahl able to play right. Veteran Matt Kemp was signed with left field in mind but he has extensive history in right. There also could be help from infield-outfield utility players Garrett Hampson, whose best positions are center and left, and Chris Owings, who is comfortable in center and right.

2021 will get here soon enough: Of course, there is a season to play, but like most of the rest of the world, baseball is looking for the day it can rip 2020 off its calendar. To that end, it’s time for a quick look at the 2021 preliminary schedule, announced Thursday.

The season opens April 1 against the Dodgers at Coors Field to mark the Rockies’ first home Opening Day since 2011. That will be a seven-game homestand, four against the Dodgers (April 1-4) and three against the D-backs (April 6-8).

Interleague opponents will be from the American League West, and the Rockies will be home for Father’s Day (June 20 vs. the Brewers), Independence Day (July 4 vs. the Cardinals) and Labor Day (Sept. 6 vs. the Giants). The final homestand will be against the Dodgers (Sept. 21-23), Giants (Sept. 24-26) and Nationals (Sept. 27-29), and the season will end at Arizona from Oct. 1-3.

Rodgers healthy and productive: Rockies No. 1 prospect Brendan Rodgers, a middle infielder, saw his debut season end with right shoulder labrum surgery last July. But Rodgers, who turns 24 on Aug. 9, was progressing faster than expected when Spring Training was ended, and the progress has continued in Summer Camp. Black said head athletic trainer Keith Dugger has no restrictions on Rodgers’ activity.

“He looks good,” Black said. “The arm is fine. We have him moving around -- second and short. The arm looks good throwing the ball. He’s moving well with his legs, and swinging the bat. I’m encouraged with where Brendan is.”

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.